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Do you ever have difficult or unsatisfying interactions with library users from other cultures? Do your customers ask for services in languages you don't understand? Do your excellent customer service skills seem to fall short with diverse library users? Would you like to be able to communicate effectively with any customer who comes through the door?

Providing exceptional customer service to library users who share our general values, norms and expectations is easy. Demonstrating sensitivity and respect to customers from cultures other than our own—and fulfilling their service needs—requires a different set of skills that can use almost every communication channel we have.

This workshop will enhance your customer service skills when serving library customers from diverse communities, and can help you feel less frustrated and more comfortable in unusual intercultural interactions

Workshop Description: This all-day training will provide the skills you need to offer excellent customer service to library users from many other cultures. Through discussion, individual and group exercises, video examples, and simulations, participants will explore the notion of culture and practice simple verbal and nonverbal interactions to welcome and effectively communicate with multicultural library customers. The instructor will provide cheat sheets, charts, checklist, a bibliography and webliography, as well as practical, useful tips that can be applied immediately.

Pre-workshop assignment: None

Preliminary Course Outline

  • Key Customer Service Competencies in Multi-cultural Communities
    • Effective cross-cultural communication skills
    • Sources of intercultural misunderstanding
    • Assumptions we make about our multicultural customers (and they make about us)
    • How to help diverse library users feel welcomed, respected, and well served
  • Verbal and Nonverbal Ways to Express Excellent Customer Service
    • Cultural sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness
    • How cultural norms and values relate to customer service
    • Interaction strategies for helping people find what they need
    • Paying attention to differences in personal space, body language, and tone of voice
  • Difficult and Unusual Customer Service Situations
    • How to bring an extra measure of sensitivity to multicultural interactions
    • Resources—internal and external—that can help
  • Finding Good Translators and Translations
    • What needs to be translated for the multicultural library user?
    • Signage, rules/policies, how-to's, schedules, and displays
    • Plan verbal, nonverbal, and written communications

Workshop Instructor: Jean Crossman-Miranda